The era of cheap flights to Europe is officially upon us.
On Thursday, Norwegian Air announced that it will launch flights from the US Northeast to Europe for as low as $65.
Norwegian’s announcement comes a month after the Icelandic low-cost airline WOW Air launched a sale with $70 fares from the US West Coast to Europe with a stopover in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Starting in June, the Norwegian low-cost carrier will operate flights using its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes to destinations in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland from its bases in Orange County, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island.
“We are pleased to announce our new highly anticipated transatlantic routes. Our new, nonstop service will enable tens of thousands of new travelers to fly between the continents much more comfortably and affordably,” Norwegian Air CEO Bjørn Kjos said in a statement. “Norwegian’s latest transatlantic offering is not only great news for the traveling public, but also for the local US economies, as we will bring more tourists that will increase spending, consequently creating thousands of new local jobs.”
According to Norwegian, the $65 tickets are part of an introductory sale. However, if you aren’t one of the several thousand travelers lucky enough to get their hands on these tickets, you’ll be glad to know that the normal starting price is $99, Norwegian Air’s senior vice president of sales, Lars Sande, told Business Insider in an interview.
The newly announced flights to Ireland will be operated by Norwegian Air International, Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, which after two years of delays finally gained approval in December from the US Department of Transportation to fly into the US.
The airline’s Norway-registered operation has been flying into the US since 2013 using its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner wide-body jets and will operate the new routes to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
NAI has been a point of controversy over the past few years. NAI is one of several subsidiaries operating under the Norwegian banner, but unlike the rest of Norwegian, NAI is based in Dublin instead of in Norway. Critics, led by US airlines and their unions, say this allows NAI to take advantage of Ireland’s employment laws, which are significantly less stringent than Norway’s. As a result, they say, NAI could hire pilots and cabin crew members from Asia at lower wages to fly transatlantic routes.
“What the other airlines and unions are saying are alternative facts and fake news,” Sande said. “We are doing exactly what Trump wants to do. We are flying American aircraft, hiring American employees, and we are paying local salaries while following local regulations.”
In a press conference earlier this month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemingly agreed with Norwegian’s stance, saying the airline’s agreement to hire US crew members and place orders for Boeing jets represents “huge economic interests” for America.
According to Sande, the new US bases will start with 150 crew members; the airline has another 500 crew members based in New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to operate its Dreamliners. Norwegian currently operates an all-Boeing fleet consisting of more than 110 Dreamliners and 737s, and it has more than 100 Boeing jets on order.